Mariam Olafuyi

Mariam Olafuyi

Mariam Olafuyi

PhD Candidate, Law

“You should come to Toronto for the food! It is quite a foodie town and I’m still exploring.”

Prior to U of T, I worked in a tier one law firm in Nigeria and the legal department of a multinational telecommunications company. I earned an LLB from the University of Ibadan, an LLM from the University of Cambridge, and I am now pursuing a doctorate at the Faculty of Law. With degrees from Nigeria and the UK, when I decided to pursue a further degree, I was keen on having a North American academic experience.

The University of Toronto is at the very front of research in Canada and the reputation of the Law Faculty is unrivalled. Also, you should come to Toronto for the food! It is quite a foodie town and I’m still exploring. The choice to attend U of T was easy to make.

My research centers on African economic integration, investigating whether the underlying approach to African economic integration is appropriate considering the historical, legal, infrastructure and economic realities of the continent. My research revolves around international trade, particularly intra-African trade and I also have a law and development approach to my thinking. U of T law gave me the opportunity to have two co-supervisors, one of whom is an authority on international trade and the other a law and development expert.

From my experience, graduate school at U of T is intense. There seems to be so much to do and so little time to do everything, but as I mentioned, all you need to do is reach out to get support. I receive excellent support from my supervisors and I am beginning to build an academic support system, which is very important when you pursue a PhD.

The academic resources available are really useful; the research librarians at Robarts and the Bora Laskin Law Library are great — I often make use of the live chat feature on the library website when I am at my wits’ end trying to find a resource. I also work with the U of T Conflict Resolution Centre as a peer advisor. This is such an important job for me, as I have been trained to support graduate students like me as they navigate graduate school.

As a graduate student, you need to be wise about your financial situation; Toronto is an expensive city. It is important to prioritize your needs and make adjustments according to your financial position, which might be hard, especially if you are coming from a higher-paying job. However, there are several external grants available and these can ease some of the financial burdens.

My faculty is very supportive when it comes to grant applications. They inform SJD candidates about grant opportunities, review your applications, and give feedback. We also had seminars where past grant awardees shared their experiences with new applicants. These resources were very useful and I was awarded a Vanier scholarship which will begin to run from my second year.

I intend to teach after obtaining the SJD [Doctor of Juridical Science] but I also intend to maintain a presence in the interesting conversations happening in trade and development in Africa. I am very passionate about academia in Africa, and it will be a dream come true for me to facilitate conversations and mobilize action to improve the education sector in Nigeria.